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Ghana’s Foreign Affairs Minister meets her Nigerian counterpart in Abuja over border closure

Ghana’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Shirley Ayorkor Botchwey has held a meeting with Nigeria’s Foreign Minister, Geoffrey Jideofor Kwusike Onyeama.

Nigeria's Foreign Affairs Minister, Geoffrey Onyeama flanked by Ghanaian Foreign Affairs Minister, Shirley Botchwey and Ghana's Trade Minister, Alan Kyerematen to the left and Amb. Zubairu Dada, Nigeria's Minister of State, Foreign Affairs in Abuja. [Twitter/@GeoffreyOnyeama]

Miss Botchwey went to Abuja with Ghana’s Trade and Industry Minister, Alan Kyerematen. He also held talks with Minister of Industry, Trade & Investment of Nigeria, Otunba Niyi Adebayo.

The meetings were held in Abuja on Wednesday (October 16, 2019). The meeting was to discuss measures to resolve the challenges Ghanaians are facing after the closure of the Nigerian borders.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the partial closing of its border with Benin in August. A few weeks after that he ordered the closure of all borders. This was to curb the smuggling of rice and other commodities into West Africa’s largest economy.

This has affected all West African countries including Ghana.

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The border restrictions are coming after Nigeria and Benin in July agreed to join the African Continental Free Trade Area, which targets greater economic integration through the removal of trade barriers and tariffs on 90% of commodities. 

Miss Botchwey, therefore, went to Abuja as part of efforts made by the Ghanaian government to ensure the safe passage of goods into Nigeria and the ECOWAS Sub-region.

During the separate meetings, the Ghanaian Foreign Minister said the two countries have a long-standing cordial relations and cooperation.

On his part, Alan Kyerematen reiterated the effects of the border closure on Ghanaian traders and admonished for it to be lifted.

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Responding to their counterparts, the two Nigerian Ministers Geoffrey Onyeama and Otunba Adebayo said that closure of the borders was not targeted at Ghana.

They explained that the closure was to fight against illegal activities across their borders. They also regretted that the closure was affecting Ghanaian businesses, traders and the Government of Ghana.

However, they indicated that Nigerian businesses have also been affected by the action. However, they argued that this was necessary to preserve security and the economy of the country.

They indicated that the Nigerian government is ready to work with Ghana to provide access to each other’s markets.

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Both parties, therefore, agreed that they will work to create a safer corridor for Ghanaian goods in transit from Benin and vice versa.

Ghana is expected to provide detailed information on Ghanaian companies that do business in Nigeria. This will enable Nigeria’s officials to better identify the Ghanaian traders.

In a related development, the Heads of Customs from both Ghana and Nigeria are expected to jointly develop modalities for the creation of a safe corridor.

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